Why & How to Make Press Releases for Your Board Game

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Press releases sound really fancy and formal. The phrase “press release” comes with a sort of gravitas that conjures up images of very official sounding businesspeople doing very official sounding business tasks. Extra, extra – read all about it! In reality, press releases are well-crafted emails that you send to bloggers and journalists – in our case, those in the board game industry.

 

 

Unlike blog posts, podcasts, live streams, and reviews, press releases are much more up-front about their purpose. They exist to inform members of the press about your game, its endearing qualities, and where people can find out more. Some people in the board game media craft articles based on the information in the press release. Others paste the press release as-is on their website. You need to be ready for both outcomes.

The press release process will have you creating a 300-400 word write-up that emphasizes why your game is awesome. This isn’t an objective analysis of the pros and cons of your game like a review, but rather an informative sales pitch. You’ll be sending this write-up as a document attached to emails you send to different members of the board game press. I strongly recommend you write each email individually but keep the press release the same. The personal touch can make all the difference in the modern world where raw efficiency is sometimes valued over meaningful connection.

Hold on, though, put that pen down! Before you spend any amount of time creating a great press release – or for that matter, launching a campaign – I’d like for you to consider four caveats.

 

Caveat 1: If your game does not work well as a product for a specific market, it doesn’t matter how many press releases you send.

Caveat 2: Press releases alone will not build your audience. They can increase your reach, but people are likely to dismiss you if you don’t have at least some initial following.

Caveat 3: When people see the press release, you need to have someplace for them to gather if they’re interested. This could be a mailing list, a chat server, or a Facebook group.

Caveat 4: Press releases are not a substitute for other forms of outreach. You still need to focus on generating leads through other means as well.

 

With all these caveats in mind, there are a few really compelling reasons to send press releases. They are an easy way to spread the word of your board game to larger media outlets. You might get a low conversion rate, but you can easily make up for that in reach. Press releases also tend to populate Google searches when blogs and news outlets post them, which can make your game more visible to people using those search engines. Last but not least, public responses to your press release, particularly by people you’ve never met, can help you gauge how well your game fits the market as a product.

You want to send press releases about a week or a week and a half before your Kickstarter campaign goes live. Too early and you risk the press releases going up to soon and diluting their effect. If you wait too late, the press releases might be posted after launch day, which is when you really need them.

As for who to send press releases to, that’s a bit trickier. Instead of providing a list which will become dated after a year or two, here is a good rule of thumb. Look for websites that meet these three criteria:

  1. They regularly post press releases about board games. You can Google “board game Kickstarter press release” to find sites like this.
  2. They have either a contact form, a contact email, or a press kit available.
  3. They have more than 200 likes on Facebook. (It doesn’t have to be a huge number since sending press releases is very easy, but you don’t want to waste your time on sites that have virtually no readers.)

 

You can find a lot of great examples of press releases online, but one of my favorites is included in an old, but good Jamey Stegmaier blog post. To send us off, I’ve included a rough outline below. This will help you structure your press release. You can emulate other people’s press releases until you find the right tone.

 


 

Press Release

[Game Name]

 

Preview of Kickstarter campaign: [Link]

[Name/company] are coming to Kickstarter to fund the printing of [Game]. [Compare to similar games.]

[Pitch line.]

[Discuss status of the game and how complete it is.]

[Core reward price]. [Discuss shipping]. The campaign will conclude after [X] days. Backers are expected to receive their rewards in [Month and Year].

[Describe game]

 

Number of Players: [Number of players]

Time per Game: [Time]

Age: [Age]

 

Website: [Link]

Twitter: [Link]

Instagram: [Link]

Facebook: [Link]

Board Game Geek Listing: [Link]

How to Use Reddit as a Board Game Dev

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Reddit: the word that strikes fear into internet marketers everywhere. It’s an extremely lively website that hosts innumerable diverse communities and has a unique culture that makes it seem impenetrable to the self-promoter. That’s part of the magic of Reddit, though – it’s not to be bought and sold. It’s a place for discussion.

To help us understand the nuances of Reddit, particularly board game Reddit, I’ve brought in Raf Cordero. He’s the cohost of Ding & Dent, a board game reviewer for a lot of different outlets, and – for an impressive stint of a time – a moderator of /r/boardgames.

 

 

I sent Raf a list of questions by email. His responses to my questions are below. They have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

 


 

Brandon: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! To get us started, tell me a little about yourself and your projects.

Raf: I’ve been professionally involved in the industry for a while now, though I’ve been involved in gaming much longer. In 2015, I founded the Ding & Dent podcast with Charlie Theel. We quickly started doing written reviews as well and since then I’ve had a number of great opportunities. I wrote for Miniature Market’s Review Corner for a while. I currently write for Geek & Sundry, PC Gamer, and ThereWillBe.Games. Reddit was one of the first gaming communities I discovered while getting into the hobby. It was much smaller then than it is now! For the longest time, /r/boardgames was my only destination on the platform. That’s still mostly true.

 

Brandon: Assume you’re talking to a game developer who’s never used Reddit before. Where should they start and what should they do?

Raf: The best place to start with Reddit is the FAQ. Reddit is an interesting place and if you’re unfamiliar with the platform, it can be tough to jump into a community. Reddit is not a social media website. Each subreddit (like a small community) is more like a clubhouse. I’d recommend you find the community you’re interested in – /r/boardgames, /r/tabletopgamedesign, /r/boardgameindustry – and just hang out for a bit commenting on other people’s posts. Think of it as a way to get to know this new community.

 

Brandon: What is Reddit good for?

Raf: It’s hard to say what “Reddit” is good for, as it’s really about each community. /r/tabletopgamedesign and /r/boardgameindustry are good for connecting with other designers and developers, getting feedback on a design, or even organizing playtests. Many developers choose to create their own subreddits for playtesting. I’ve been involved in a few playtests with Jon Gilmour where the official forum was actually a private subreddit. It worked great. /r/boardgames is great for the community. Everyone there is passionate about gaming and you can really get a feel for what the community is excited about, and also make a lot of good friends.

 

Brandon: What is Reddit bad for?

Raf: Reddit is bad for self-promotion. That is the number one issue that industry folks unfamiliar with the platform run into. Even if the platform and individual communities didn’t have rules about this (and they do!) the community in general absolutely rejects blatant self-promotion, or people who just show up to share their own projects without participating. Once you’re a community member you’ll find the community to be extremely supportive, but you’ve got to put some time in first. Again, it’s a clubhouse. If you joined a club and started pushing products on your first day in you’d probably be shown the door.

 

Brandon: What kind of behaviors are encouraged on Reddit?

Raf: Reddit encourages participation. Get in and talk to people, find new communities, and share games/videos/articles you find interesting! The whole point of Reddit is to bring things you think are cool to a bunch of people who will probably think it’s cool as well. A lot of the friends I’ve made in board gaming have come from /r/boardgames.

 

Brandon: What kind of behaviors are discouraged on Reddit?

Raf: Being a jerk, and (again) self-promotion.

 

Brandon: If there were one critical piece of advice which you could give to game developers who have never used Reddit before, what would it be?

Raf: Come as a person, not as a brand. Be yourself. Presumably, you play more games than just your own, and think about more games than just your design. Bring those insights to the community!

 


 

Reddit is a complex website that’s home to a massive variety of different communities. Each community, each subreddit, is like a clubhouse. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, these are not places where you can blatantly market your games. Get involved, get to know people in the community, and you may well find yourself with new friends and helpful insight 🙂

An Inside Look at the Board Game Review Process

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Having your board game reviewed for the first time can be nervewracking. It’s difficult to send your brainchild to a critic who can influence the way your game is seen when it comes time to Kickstart or publish it. Much of the anxiety that new game developers experience when sending their games off to reviewers comes from the opaqueness of the process. That’s why I’ve brought in Dez Maggs of goto.game to talk about what goes into the board game review process.

 

 

I sent Dez a list of questions by email. His responses to my questions are below. They have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

This article is broken into seven parts:

  1. Who is Dez?
  2. What do reviews involve?
  3. How long do reviews take?
  4. What do reviewers do?
  5. How can game devs make reviewers’ lives easier?
  6. What do you look for in games?
  7. Parting Advice

 


 

Who is Dez?

 

Brandon: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! To get started, tell me a little about yourself and Goto.game.

Dez: Goto.game has an amazing collection of content writers from all over Australia and New Zealand. We pride ourselves in being your one stop shop for all things gaming. Whether it is tech, events, video or board games; we cover it all.

I am their lead board game writer, which has allowed me to reach more people that enjoy gaming and open their eyes to the world of board games. I have had several streamers and video game players reach out to me and excitedly tell me that they bought that game I just reviewed or be shocked at how much about the industry they didn’t know or realize.

Goto.game has been a great platform for me, a place to share and inform people about what I love. It gives my reviews and – in turn – designers’ games, a big platform to be recognized by the large gaming community.

As for me personally, not much to tell, really. I love games and have ever since I can remember. I was given a copy of HeroQuest for my 6th birthday and it was played until it was literally falling apart.

From there, I went on to playing roleplaying games (I have a mad obsession for RPG Dice), then wargaming (more for the painting side of things, over actually playing). Recently, Kickstarter became popular, and it reignited my passion for board games.

 

What do reviews involve?

 

Brandon: What do reviews entail?

Dez: I’m lucky in that I have three semi-regular game nights. This allows me to play and turn around games quite quickly. I try to play each game a minimum of five times, but I prefer more if possible. During my playthroughs, I don’t take photos or write notes – I want the gameplay as organically as possible. This allows me to take mental notes on how easy it is to learn and whether others are enjoying the game. This makes it feel more fun and less like work for me.

Once I have played the game; the review is quite easy to write. After several years of experience, I have a formula I like to use for writing:

  • Intro
  • Game rules
  • Brief game description
  • My playthrough experience
  • Art
  • Issues
  • Conclusion, including Kickstarter or store links

 

How long do reviews take?

 

Brandon: How much time does it take?

Dez: The actual write-up of the review normally takes me about an hour or so; depending on the complexity of the game and rules. It is funny, as people may read this and think “is that it?”

The most time-consuming part of reviewing is the actual playing of the games. Granted, I love playing them, but this truly is the hardest and most time-consuming part. If you think about some Euro games, they can take up to 2-3 hours to play. I play each game a minimum of 5 times, so you have literally spent 15 hours playing games, normally over several weeks. All for a piece that take people about 10 minutes to read.

This is worst-case scenario, of course. Small box games can be played over a gaming night and written about when I get home with about four hours of effort from start to finish.

 

What do reviewers do?

 

 

Brandon: What do most reviewers do and what do you do?

Dez: One thing that I don’t do, that a lot of other reviewers do, is give a score to the game. I have never done that, as I find what I consider a 7 vs. what others see as a 7 can differ considerably. This can lead to a very good game being overlooked or a mediocre game being funded.

I must say, the only person I have come across whose scoring method I like and think reviewers should follow is George of GJJ Games. He gives his score and shows a graphic underneath it that shows what each grade means. It limits the confusion and allows you to know exactly what he thinks of the game.

 

How can game devs make reviewers’ lives easier?

 

Brandon: How can board game developers make your life easy when it comes to reviews?

Dez: Time is a big factor for any reviewer. More time will often get you a better quality review.

A personal touch is always really nice. I have received several games that have had handwritten letters explaining the game and thanking me for taking the time to review their game. These letters could quite easily be just copied and pasted to the other 10 reviewers; but when your name is on there and they have taken the time to write or even print a letter it makes you feel valued.

Access to a Dropbox link with rules and art is a nice touch. If I get one of these, I normally have learned the rules by the time the game arrives. Not to mention, with prototypes that don’t come in a box, a picture of the box art makes life so much easier.

I also like when developers ask for a date they would like the review released. Some designers prefer it on the launch day and others prefer it several days before the launch to start the buzz for the game. As a reviewer, I like this. It allows me to better use my time.

 

What do you look for in games?

 

Brandon: What do you look for in games you review?

Dez: I look for a game I want to play. I’m a reviewer, but I’m a player first. If a game interests me as a player, I get excited about it and want to review it. I think for me, if I look at a game and would back it based on what I see or read about it, I will put up my hand to review it.

When I started out, I only did small box games and didn’t review anything other than them. This was mainly due to this being my personal taste in games. As I’ve grown as a gamer and experienced more games, my tastes have changed. Now I look for a great game, not the type or style of game it is.

Brandon: What happens if you like a game?

Dez: If I like a game, I will share it in the 10 different Facebook groups I’m a part of. I’ll retweet it during the campaign and try hard to get the word out throughout the whole campaign.

Brandon: What happens if you don’t like a game?

Dez: I will actually not review it if the game is that bad. I will return or not review about 8-10 games a year. I will always reach out the designer via email and make a list of all the problems or issues I found while playing the game.

It is probably the worst part about reviewing for me. I know the work, passion, and love that goes into making a game. Writing an email that lists and calls out the faults with a game is such a hard thing to do.

I try to not just give criticism but also constructive feedback as well as possible fixes. These emails normally take about the same time as actually writing a review.

I have been pretty lucky that most actually take it very well. Several have even gone back to the drawing board, redesigned the game, then funded.

 

Parting Advice

 

Brandon: If there were one critical piece of advice which you could give to game developers seeking a review, what would you tell them?

Dez: This is a tough question. I think “treat them like a friend.” You share a love and passion for the same thing: board games. Why not use that to grow a friendship and help one another? Reviewers are more likely to help you out or go above and beyond for a friend.

Reviewers have a wealth of knowledge. Get to know them and you’ll be surprised at what they can help you with. After doing reviews for some designers, they have reached out while making their next project for advice. I will always try to help them or introduce them to someone that can help them, as I consider them a friend.

This is a small industry and having more friends in the industry really makes for a better and more welcoming industry.

 


 

Having your board game reviewed doesn’t have to be scary. Reviewers are often passionate about board games, just like you are. Most want you to succeed. Be friendly, be organized, and try to understand their perspective.

Are you getting ready to send your board game off for review? Share your experiences in the comments below 🙂